Kasey Hovik, Executive Director
In mid-November the Board of Directors (BOD) and staff of Umpqua Watersheds (UW) met for our annual strategic planning meeting. We spent the whole day reviewing accomplishments of the past year, our strategic plan and making plans for the coming year. Over the past six years I have had the opportunity to work closely with these amazing people and am humbled and inspired to be able to call them friends and collaborators. In the process of reviewing the work of the organization over the past year we were, once again, surprised by how much we have accomplished together. I want to briefly highlight each committee to emphasize not only the accomplishments and their importance to our strategic plan but that of the work done by the committees’ volunteers that represent many hundreds of hours over the course of a year.
The “nuts and bolts” of the work related to carrying out the strategic plan is accomplished through our committee structure. Our C.O.R.E. committees (Conservation, Outreach, Restoration and Education) are led by a member of the board of directors. We also have operational committees, Facility Management and Finance as well as the Wilderness Committee. These committees are also led by BOD members.
As Executive Director, I sit on all of our committees (except Wilderness) and work closely with the Staff and BOD to coordinate activities and to add continuity to the committee process. I also supervise our staff and serve as the mentor for our AmeriCorps members. One of my primary objectives is to help execute UW’s strategic plan and to outreach on behalf of the organization to individuals and organizations in our community. I represent UW and the local Watershed Council, the Partnership for Umpqua Rivers.
We are very fortunate to have Melanie MacKinnon as our Office Manager. Her organizational talents have made a significant impact on operations since last March. She works with our finance team to maintain accurate records and serves as our Grant Committee Chair. As our only paid staff member, she works 20 hours/week and has become the day-to-day face of UW. Her regular hours are M-W 1-5pm, and Th-F 9am-1pm.
UW’s Facility Management Committee is chaired by John Hunter. Since we gained possession of the building in July of 2017, he and the committee have volunteered many hours updating and improving the building, working with our tenants and planning improvements. The building represents UW’s biggest financial asset. Half of the funds we receive from our tenants go toward paying taxes, utilities and insurance. The other half of these funds has gone toward making repairs and upgrades to our building. The 2nd Saturday of the month ,we have a work party for 3-4 hours to tackle various projects and provide basic upkeep to our office.
Catherine Stone is the Treasurer for UW and chair of our Finance Committee. Diana Larson is our volunteer bookkeeper and spends many hours each month to ensure we have accurate financial information for tracking and budgeting. The Finance Committee reviews and recommends financial policies and procedures for the BOD. They also provide updates on the budget for committees and works to maintain the UW financial integrity.
Joseph Patrick Quinn, affectionately known as “Paddy”, is our Conservation Chair. He also serves as Vice President on our BOD. Paddy is a one-man committee as he writes comments to proposed work on BLM and Forest Service land. He has earned the respect not only of those of us in the conservation community, but also professionals in the agencies who see UW and Paddy’s work as an important check to pressures put on by the industry and politicians to “get out the cut”. It is tedious and trying work and involves researching proposed timber sales and actions of the agencies. One of the major goals in the coming year is to find funding for at least a half-time position for a Conservation Director.
Diane Pace, who serves as UW Secretary, co-chairs the Wilderness Committee with former BOD member, Bob Hoehne. Robbin Schindele is our Crater Lake Wilderness Coordinator and works 20+ hours each week, paid for by a grant from Patagonia. Robbin and the committee have done a great job creating events such as hikes and concerts to promote the Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal (CLWP). He is a dynamo, and has made significant progress in the process of reaching out to our sister organizations and traveling to represent UW and the CLWP at meetings and conferences.
Barbara Lynch is our new Outreach Committee chair. Outreach is essential to UW because it involves keeping our members informed of what is happening with the organization and provide opportunities for members and the general public to participate in UW activities such as our Annual Membership Banquet and Auction in April, River Appreciation Day in July and the Umpqua Brew Fest in October. She is also responsible for organizing and promoting concerts, hikes, speakers and tabling opportunities at community events. Our quarterly newsletter, bi-weekly emails, “Watershed Moments”, UW website and Facebook pages are all important tools the Outreach Committee oversees. Patrick Schneider, Program Director for UW low-frequency radio station, KQUA, 99.97 has volunteered many hours to create excellent programming for the station. It has become a wonderful tool for UW to reach people and businesses in our community.
Stanley Petrowski chairs the UW Restoration Committee as well as serving as President. He has devoted his life to developing and implementing innovative restoration projects. The environmental challenges our community and world faces are enormous and environmental restoration provides an important catalyst for dealing with these challenges. We are fortunate to have someone who has been nationally recognized for his contributions to restoration leading the way for Umpqua Watersheds and the vital work of Restoration.
Dr. Ken Carloni chairs our Education Committee. He is a former BOD President and a founding member of UW. Over the last seven years UW has sponsored six AmeriCorps members who have invested thousands of hours in environmental education in Douglas County by teaching in local classrooms, leading hikes and campouts for youth and playing important roles as part of UW outreach initiatives. Over the last four years, every fifth grade class in Douglas County has had the opportunity to visit Crater Lake National Park led by our AmeriCorps volunteers thanks to a Gray Family Foundation grant. We have worked closely with Phoenix Charter School and their Oregon Youth Conservation Corps program to provide students with an opportunity to participate in our Learn, Earn and Serve program. Students have the opportunity to attend environmental science classes at UCC, work on public lands with restoration projects and have the opportunity to mentor younger students as part of the Twin Lakes Youth Wilderness Campout in July of each year. UW invests thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to support education initiatives in Douglas County every year.
I hope that this overview helps to provide our readers with an understanding and appreciation for the great work that is happening at Umpqua Watersheds. At least 90% of the work is done through faithful volunteers. We are very fortunate to enjoy financial support from longtime members and sponsors. Please consider volunteering and/or donating to support our work. It isn’t easy being green but it is possible with your support.